asks you if she’s pretty
your heart will drop like a wineglass
on the hardwood floor
part of you will want to say
of course you are, don’t ever question it
and the other part
the part that is clawing at
will want to grab her by her shoulders
look straight into the wells of
her eyes until they echo back to you
you do not have to be if you don’t want to
it is not your job
both will feel right
one will feel better
she will only understand the first
when she wants to cut her hair off
or wear her brother’s clothes
you will feel the words in your
mouth like marbles
you do not have to be pretty if you don’t want to
it is not your job"
— Caitlyn Siehl, it is not your job
by Carrie Murphy
The intimidation of the ocean which is nothing
compared to escalators which are nothing
compared to riding your bike in a miniskirt,
banjoing along the road as the vee of your turquoise
underwear is there & then not there, men looking & then not
looking, which is nothing compared to driving alone
in a strange state while a bass drum of hurricane gallops
over, rain & then thunder & then rain & then thunder,
stopping to eat corn nuts & bacon bits which are
not what you ate on the train to Portsmouth all
crooked in the arm of a man who was nothing
compared to the tracks which were such violins,
steel sirens, which were nothing compared
to the thick wings of airplanes where you see
angels leering for dear life, mouthing caution
like lyres or the sudden sound of his breath
from his body in the pitch-dark, the salt-lick
of his teeth & tongue or the solidity of your own bones,
& how you want to live in that split-second after the chain is pulled,
when the light is not on & not off.
—Pretty Tilt (Keyhole Press, 2012)
by Kim Addonizio
I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what’s underneath. I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty’s and the hardware store
with all those keys glittering in the window,
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old
donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.
I want to walk like I’m the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm
your worst fears about me,
to show you how little I care about you
or anything except what
I want. When I find it, I’ll pull that garment
from its hanger like I’m choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I’ll wear it like bones, like skin,
it’ll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.
off 4 dollar red wine.
and my lips
a soft purple.
and i feel
good things happen.
by Jennifer Chang
The daffodils can go fuck themselves.
I’m tired of their crowds, yellow rantings
about the spastic sun that shines and shines
and shines. How are they any different
from me? I, too, have a big messy head
on a fragile stalk. I spin with the wind.
I flower and don’t apologize. There’s nothing
funny about good weather. Oh, spring again,
the critics nod. They know the old joy,
that wakeful quotidian, the dark plot
of future growing things, each one
labeled Narcissus nobilis or Jennifer Chang.
If I died falling from a helicopter, then
this would be an important poem. Then
the ex-boyfriends would swim to shore
declaiming their knowledge of my bulbous
youth. O, Flower, one said, why aren’t you
meat? But I won’t be another bashful shank.
The tulips have their nervous joie-de-vivre,
the lilacs their taunt. Fractious petals, stop
interrupting my poem with boring beauty.
All the boys are in the field gnawing raw
bones of ambition and calling it ardor. Who
the hell are they? This is a poem about war.
— Janet Fitch
in my heart
and walked away."
— Saul Williams, from “She”